BY LEANN DILBECK –
A jury of 6 men and 6 women were seated today on day 1 of the murder trial of now 18-year old Cheyenne Fink, who is accused of stabbing 80-year old Korean War Veteran, Loyd Cole, while he was taking a routine walk on the morning of December 3, 2012.
Opening statements began at approximately 2:30 p.m. this afternoon in Polk County Circuit Court before the Honorable J.W. Looney.
Prosecuting Attorney Andy Riner challenged jurors to discard any preconceived notions that they may have on the case and to make their decision based strictly on the evidence presented at trial.
Riner said evidence presented will show that Cole, a military veteran, didn’t hear well and walked with a cane. Cole lived on Amsterdam and was taking a routine walk, only to be found later, lying face up in a ditch along Gilham Street, with multiple brutal stab wounds, and a blood trail that led to the front door of 1007 9th Street, the home of Cheyenne Fink.
Riner said Fink will explain to officers a fresh knife wound on her arm as being self-imposed because she was upset about her brother, which he explained, demonstrates her cognitive ability to begin to establish the foundation for a defense.
Joseph Tobler, Fink’s appointed public defender, began his opening statement with a famous quote by Paul Harvey, “here’s the rest of the story,” as he began to describe Fink’s home life. Fink, who sat at the table with the remainder of her defense team, wept as he explained that her father was disabled and that her mother had Lupus. He said she had two older brothers, one of which had overdosed 6 years ago, and explained it to be the catalyst for Fink’s depression and psychotic episodes, “The entire family moved into a very dark place.”
Tobler said since the age of 13, Fink had been in and out of the care of multiple therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists, several of which will provide testimony during trial. Tobler also stated that church leaders would also provide testimony as witnesses of her delusional and psychotic episodes. Tobler said that medications were used to control Fink’s condition but evidence indicates that her medication had been stopped suddenly prior to December 3, 2012. He added that jail managers would testify to the dramatic fluctuations changes in medication schedules have had on Fink’s behavior while she has been in custody.
Tobler asserted to jurors that they, after hearing all of the testimony and evidence, must make their decision “beyond ALL reasonable doubt,” and said if they were unable to do so, “You must acquit.”
The state’s first witness was Lee Crawford, who was the first to discover the body of Cole. Riner then called Detective Brandon Martin, a 15-year certified veteran for the Mena Police Department, and described in detail how officers secured the scene. Photos of the crime scene, the body, and the blood trail were presented to the jury. During Martin’s testimony as he described running the crime scene tape, he explained that Fink’s father had spoken with Sgt. Dolores Hutcheson, wanting to get by the tape to his home, saying that he had gotten a call that his “daughter had gone crazy.”
Martin said as he was following the blood trail, Fink’s father, who was now in the home, emerged and inquired if he was looking for blood. He then told Martin his daughter had cut herself because she was upset by her brother [who had died] and had walked down to the corner of the street. Fink came out and gave the same story. Martin said Fink did appear nervous but was able to converse clearly.
Officers obtained a search warrant and upon investigating the residence found clothes drenched with blood in the washing machine.
During cross-examination, Tobler asked Martin if he also saw what appeared to be “foamy spit” along the blood trail and if it smelled like vomit. Martin replied that he had not smelled it and that he was more focused on the blood. He questioned the timing of entrance to the home in correlation to obtaining the search warrant and also if Fink’s parents were informed about their then 17-year old minor child being arrested on murder charges.
Polk County Coroner Brian Bowser took the stand and confirmed that he arrived on the scene at 11:15 a.m. He found the body unattended and confirmed that Cole was deceased. He described the body as “mangled” to jurors.
Judge Looney adjourned the trial for Monday, citing that the next testimony given would be lengthy and said they would reconvene at 9 a.m. Tuesday morning.